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RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software

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khandu 07 Jul 05 - 06:36 PM
George Seto - 07 Jul 05 - 07:43 PM
PoppaGator 27 Jul 05 - 06:29 PM
khandu 27 Jul 05 - 06:38 PM
Kaleea 27 Jul 05 - 09:15 PM
Joe Offer 28 Jul 05 - 10:50 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 28 Jul 05 - 12:13 PM
PoppaGator 28 Jul 05 - 02:23 PM
Kaleea 28 Jul 05 - 10:23 PM
Mark Clark 01 Aug 05 - 03:17 PM
PoppaGator 15 Aug 05 - 06:22 PM
pavane 16 Aug 05 - 10:45 AM
pavane 17 Aug 05 - 07:47 AM
PoppaGator 17 Aug 05 - 01:22 PM
pavane 18 Aug 05 - 04:50 AM
PoppaGator 18 Aug 05 - 12:06 PM
pavane 19 Aug 05 - 10:12 AM
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Subject: Tablature / MIDI software
From: khandu
Date: 07 Jul 05 - 06:36 PM

Now perhaps I am so far out of the loop that everyone has known about this long before I heard of it. But, nonetheless, there may be some here who are not aware.

A few months back, Frank Delaney introduced me to RandyTab, a tablature/Midi program which I found to be a rather simple way to write tab for my own compositions. Being able to "play them back" on MIDI (clearly helps insure the accuracy of my tabs.

Information & the free software can be found Here

Are any of my fellow Mudcatters familiar with this, or use it?


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Subject: RE: Tablature / MIDI software
From: George Seto -
Date: 07 Jul 05 - 07:43 PM

Sounds interesting. Thanks!

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Subject: RE: Tablature / MIDI software
From: PoppaGator
Date: 27 Jul 05 - 06:29 PM


I've also been in touch with Frank Delaney, who introduced me to the Randytab program, too, along with several of his transcriptions of Mississippi John Hurt pieces.

I couldn't help but notice that a couple of Frank's efforts, while "written" or transcribed correctly in terms of standard musical notation (quarter notes and eighth notes, etc.), did not always play back in the correct timing through the Randytab MIDI function.

After a bit of experimentation, I realized that the program does not always recognize the time-value of notes correctly, but it DOES seem to play back in time according to how widely spaced your notes are placed on the tablature "staff." I'm pretty sure that it's possible to create Randytabs that will play back correctly, even though it might be necessary to violate standard musical "grammar" to make things come out as intended. (It's also probably necessary to avoid some of Randytab's "special features" that don't work as they should, notably hammer-ons. When the MIDI is played, hammered notes play back entirely too quickly and throw off the tempo completely.)

Seems to me that tablature that can be read for finger-placement information, and that can also be audibly played to indicate how the piece should sound, would be the best learning tool yet for fingerpickers. I am slowly working on tabbing one of the few MJH songs that Frank and Ken haven't already transcribed (grin), making every effort to write with correct MIDI playback in mind, even at the expense, when necessary, of violating standard notation conventions.

It shjould also be noted that you are NOT restricted to standard guitar tuning. You can tune any string to any pitch and the MIDI funciton will adjust accordingly, thus allowing you to work in any open or alternate tuning. I'm not absolutely sure, but I think you can also vary the number of strings, which opens up all kinds of possibilities for tabbing other instruments.

And, hey, it's free! Click the link that Khandu provides above, and you can not only download the software, you can also find plenty of completed tabs, sorted by artist name. (You need to download and install the program first, of course, before you can open the tablature files.) You'll find quite a few Frank Delaney contributions under "M" for Mississippi John Hurt.

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Subject: RE: Tablature / MIDI software
From: khandu
Date: 27 Jul 05 - 06:38 PM

Very good description, Poppa! Thanks.

I totaly ignore any musical notaion whenever I write tab on RandyTab. I just do what sounds right to my ear, which, in some cases, takes some time!

But I have no knowledge of notated music any way. I have never learned to "read" music; I have ever played by ear and that is how I write tab.

Another thing I do like about Randytab is the ability to apply many different "voices" to the tab...Of course, the tab is written for guitar, but I like the played-back sound of strings, accordions, piano and such!

I would have never tried to write tab without Randytab; it is work, but it is fun!


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Subject: RE: Tablature / MIDI software
From: Kaleea
Date: 27 Jul 05 - 09:15 PM

I spent most of last night on through till morning looking around online for notation software which allows me to do tabs for any stringed instrument. And do lyrics, & midis, & have all my teaching materials on file in my 'puter instead of in a zillion file folders here & there. I liked the potential for autoharp on tabledit. If one monkeys around for a long time, one can force a couple of 'em to do 3 string tab for Mountain Dulcimer, but looks like you have to redo all that doin' everytime. The big kahuna$$ program$ say nothing on their $ites about tablature--except of course the G7 program for guitarists. Just broad overviews & how to buy it. It would certainly be groovy to have the recording studio & notation program all in one like Sibelius. While they all have guitar, there seem to be few programs out there for variety tablatures.

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 10:50 AM


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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 12:13 PM

Finale comes with many preset tablatures (guitars in various tunings, similarly banjos, dulcimers, sitars etc) and also lets you define your own tuning. I haven't time to check, but I would imagine Sibelius has pretty much the same features.

TablEdit also comes with predefined instruments and also lets you define your own (~$55).


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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 02:23 PM

Whatever tab program one might be using, it would probably be desirable to identify others working with the same software, in order to swap files.

Whatever its flaws, Randytab is free, which fits my budget perfectly. Plus which, the person who sent it to me also provided a good-sized collection of files he had created, tabs for material in which I am particularly interested (Mississippi John Hurt songs).

Also, an update is reportedly in the works, although I don't understand why someone would invest the time and effort to improve a non-profit freeware product. (The original program was written for academic credit, which to me is a reasonable explanation for developing something and then distributing it at no charge. But I don't imagine the guy could earn a higher degree just by upgrading his previous thesis!)

Kaleea: I don't know anything about the specific program(s) in which you're working, but it seems to me that once you have created and saved a file using a given set of parameters (three mountain-dulcimer stings, for example), you should never need to "reinvent the wheel." Just call up your existing file, do a "save-as," delete the notes but not the staff, and proceed to tab your next song as a complete "revision" ~ no?

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: Kaleea
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 10:23 PM

Actually, I'm not using a program, except I have been demoing for the past couple of days. The tabledit looked good, but for some reason, some of the choices on a pallette disappeared, & some functions & had to keep reconfiguring--maybe it was just a wierd download malfunction. The $ibelius, terrific for most other purposes, seemed limited, also, in the tablature design & what could be done with it. And the big monie$ ver$ion gold couldn't playback using "alternative fretted instrument" (ie., mandolin, dulcimer) sound. These programs seem to not take "Bluegrass/Traditional" instruments seriously. I suppose it might seem strange that a college edjumacated classical-type moosician could possibly want to use one of the fancy programs for Bluegrassy-type instruments, too. In many orchestras on this planet, they would not be complete without a Mandolin or other instruments now seemingly forgotten. I'm not editorializing, just whining!   
   I also tried the free bucketo'tab and for some reason could never bring up anything that vaguely resembled a Music program-just a window with alotta nuthin'.
    Most of what I do tab-wise is for students & workshops, and includes a lot of Mountain Dulcimer, Autoharp, Mandolin stuff. & yes, Fiddle & Guitar--these 2 are very well developed in all the hoity-toity programs.
I know that with my arthritis & muscular problems I will eventually need some of the functions of the fancy programs to avoid all the writing by hand. I would actually consider getting one of the big kahuna$ if they had the standard Traditional instruments beloved by a large population of humans, also if they didn't keep saying this is extra & that is extra & $$$,$$$, $$$!!!!
I'll try the Randytab & go into the database & see what I can find--Thanks!

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Subject: RE: Tablature/MIDI Software
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 Aug 05 - 03:17 PM

For those interested in tablature programs and in sharing tablature with others, I strongly recommend Power Tab.

This free program has all the features of RandyTab plus many more. There is no requirement for reading music, yet a music staff is displayed so that those who do read music can readily see the time value of each note.

Power Tab also lets you create your own chord diagrams for inclusion in the tab file for those unusual voicings we often find in folk music.

Power Tab also has an ASCII export option that creates a tab page using typewriter characters. This is just the thing for posting snippets of tablature in a Mudcat thread.

Of course Power Tab plays back the MIDI representation of the tab and gives you great control over how that is done.

There are also a large number of songs already available in the Power Tab Archive when you're looking for some ideas on a song you're learning.

      - Mark

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Aug 05 - 06:22 PM

I downloaded PowerTab over the weekend to check it out. I was especially interested in the export-to-ASCII feature, since I am not anxious to laboriously re-work the pieces I've written out in RandyTab just to cast them in a format accessible to anyone.

PowerTab is indeed quite powerful, but I was a bit disillusioned because it includes so many more features than I need: multiple tracks (guitar + bass, up to seven instruments and no less than two), standard musical notation including key signature, a whole lot of electric guitar effects, etc. I have a little bit of formal musical education, but not really enough to easily and effectively deal with PowerTab.

I think I'll stick with the much simpler RandyTab, warts and all. To me, it seems to be "the people's" tab program, quite appropriate to the folk process. I have succeeded in using RT to write tabs for a couple of Mississippi John Hurt songs to my own satisfaction. I made a few minor compromises, writing separate notes in a couple of places where I couldn't make the "hammer-on" or the "slide" program functions produce the sounds that I'd like, but the result sounds fine and constitutes a terrific learning tool. (How can you not be able to learn a song when you can see the tab for finger-placement while simultaneously listening to how each note sounds in the overall arrangement?)

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: pavane
Date: 16 Aug 05 - 10:45 AM

It looks as if there may be a demand for a TAB facility within HARMONY after all. Again, I will look at it

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: pavane
Date: 17 Aug 05 - 07:47 AM

Just to clarify the requirement:

A TAB package should provide the following, in addition to abc import/export and MIDI output

Selectable number of strings
Specification of tuning of each string

Tab and notation staffs both visible, and aligned
Onscreen edit of tab items automatically updates score and vice versa
Audio Implementation of Hammers and Pulls
Aligned lyrics

Chord dictionary (dynamic, dependent on string tuning)

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Aug 05 - 01:22 PM


RandyTab does have your "manadatory" features, but that's about it.

There's no parallel standard-notation staff, so alignment and auto-updating are moot points. Hammer-on, pull-off and slide functions are provided for (to my ear anyway) play back too quickly; certainly, there is currently no way to control the timing of these features. (A promised update may fix this.)

RandyTab does allow "aligned lyrics" and/or chords (not diagrams, but "names" like "C" or "Amin7" etc.) Just right-click the desired note to "insert" a "comment" immediately above that note; you can then type in the desired syllable of lyrics or chord name.

I think PowerTab (also freeware) has all the features you seek. For me, it provides much more than I need/want: a minimum of four parallel staves, for tab and standard-notation for at least two instruments (guitar and bass). It also provides something that probably meets your definition for a "chord dictionary": the complete set of chord diagrams for a given piece can be input and stored at the top of a given score.

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: pavane
Date: 18 Aug 05 - 04:50 AM

I am not SEEKING these features, but checking what would be required if I added TAB to my program HARMONY, which already provides more features than other software, but not yet TAB.

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Aug 05 - 12:06 PM

aha! I didn't realize that HARMONY was your baby, pavane. No offense!

I just looked back at earlier messages in this thread, thinking I probably missed something you had already mentioned, but no. I'm sure you've discussed this at length in other threads at other times, but you can't assume that all of us are aware of it.

I get tired of repeating myself on some subjects, too, but every message you post is likely to be seen by someone who's never read anything you've written, or who at least doesn't remember to connect your name to something read weeks or months ago. It's a tough judgement call, sometimes, to decide whether to tell us something all over again for the umpteenth time.

In any event, why not let us know a little more about your product/project, here in this thread? Just a working link would do the trick.

I tried Googling "HARMONY" +"music notation software" but had no luck. If your program is shareware priced at $65, the page currently referenced by Google is currently unavailable ("page not found").

Back to the subject of Randytab: I got an email this morning from Andy (not "Randy"), saying he received my submissions and would be posting them on his website sometime soon ~ but they're not there yet. I'll let y'all know when they appear. Or maybe I'll just email Ken/Khandu and Frank Delaney if I don't get any indication that anyone else is interested...

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Subject: RE: RandyTab: Tab/MIDI Software
From: pavane
Date: 19 Aug 05 - 10:12 AM

My program HARMONY is to be found here:

I have put many links to it in various threads, so I don't like to overdo it!

It has MANY unique features, like adding chords to a tune, converting a tune to a round, reel to hornpipe converter, note 'styles' and powerful drag and drop editing of the score. Includes abc import, MIDI output and all the usual features (transpose, print, play)

Shareware with a recommended donation of $25, but you can pay more if you want! (or less)

End of advert

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